Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘library2.0

There are days when I wonder if my profession as a whole has a death wish. Not only do outsiders rail on and on about how libraries need to be closed, how they will "evolve" into new spaces (that have nothing to do with the mission of an actual library), or how no one really needs them, but librarians and library professionals insist on deprofessionalizing their own profession, taking the library apart piece by piece, turn it into an arcade or entertainment center, and pretty much go for the lowest common denominator. Of course, if you mention any of this, and you put your name on it as I am doing now, you risk the ire of your professional brethren who will label you as someone who "does not get it." I am not quite sure what to make of the whole mess. Sure, I have my opinions, but I just don't feel like writing a whole post about it.

I have seen a good number of items that have given me food for thought, so here they go in my notes. Maybe some writing will come out of it, maybe not. But I cannot help but wonder why do my professional brethren insist of self-destruction?

  • Two members of ACRL debate about the future of academic libraries, and from the looks of it, take a mild common ground where they toss the ball and say, "who knows what will happen." Not exactly something to inspire confidence. The event is reported by Inside Higher Ed in "Bookless Libraries?
  • Campus Technology looks at the 21st century library as "A Space to Collaborate." Mostly highlights of a new very elegant digital library in Calgary and a few other places. In other words, an example of what gets done when you have a lot of funding to do it and people who think that electronic will overtake everything else. 
  • Here is the Effing Librarian on "The Future of the Library Cafe." He has a way of using jokes and satire to make serious points that I like because often makes issues very accessible to others. This is definitely worth a look. He also has a new advocacy poster to help keep libraries open.
  • Then again, we need reassurance that "librarians still have vital role in the Web 2.0 era." Good to know that librarians are not headed for the scrap heap and have to start taking Geritol just yet. The article found via Resource Shelf.
  • And via Inside Higher Ed, here we have another college administrator speaking on "Libraries of the Future" where "the university library of the future will be sparsely staffed, highly decentralized, and have a physical plant consisting of little more than special collections and study areas." Funny how administrators who would never dream of doing our front line work with students are the first ones who want to outsource our librarians and library resources.
  • Stephen Abrams points to an article in the journal New Review of Academic Librarianship. I have to check to see if we carry the journal, then see if I get around to read it. For now, I am using this note to remind myself. Apparently the issue Abrams mentions deals with the ever present topic of the future of the academic library. 
  • And speaking of the short-sighted who want to close libraries, there are these folks in Omaha. Found via LISNews, where they have some comments.
  • And in the quest to make unlibraries (to borrow Effing Librarian's term), the Annoyed Librarian tells us that "Something's Gotta Give." AL also tells us that "the future is now" in the context of school libraries getting rid of book collections for e-books or other online access rental.
  • Jessamyn West has some thoughts on the Cushing Academy (aka as the school library that got rid of its book collection). A lot of comments over there. Another response on the topic at PhiloBiblos blog.

There are other things out there in the librarian sector of the blogosphere, but I can only take so much at one time. I may keep adding more as I get back in the mood.
 

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The chi.mp service, which describes itself as a content hub and identity management platform, just has a very long way to go before it becomes a good content hub and identity management platform. I got an account back when their beta was closed, and after a few months of toying with it, it just could not meet my needs. Here are some of the problems I found:

  • A limited number of services available. It has a a very small list of services you can bring in: Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and rss feeds (which can allow you to bring in your blog, for instance), Delicious, and one or two other things. Given the many services out there, they need to expand this list.
  • The service "does not play well" with Facebook. From the beginning, the chi.mp folks claimed that you could connect your Facebook status to their service. This never worked, and as of today, when I finally made the decision to hit the delete button, it was not working. I saw some notes on their forums that Facebook apparently was giving them difficulties with importing photos into the service. Now, I don't use Facebook for photos much. I use Facebook for photos for the FB library's page, but not for personal use. So, this was not a big issue, but the status and feed integration was definitely a desired feature, and I saw no indication it would get fixed any time soon.
  • Feeds. I pulled in the feeds from my blogs and my delicious account. I noticed that updating the feed over on chi.mp from the blog was not very expeditious. I made a post this morning earlier, and chi.mp had not picked it up yet. There was no option to refresh the feed when logged in, and no note or indication in their help about how long it could take for a feed to update. A content hub does not work very well if it does not update in a timely matter.
  • Their help forums. While there is an e-mail for questions and support, most of the help is routed to their forums. For the forums, which are powered by some third party, you have to register (again). This was very off putting for me. I already registered for your service, and you are going to make me jump another hurdle so I can send you feedback, feedback which you claim to welcome? No, thanks.

Overall, it was a good experiment. I got some ideas of things I would like to accomplish in terms of social networking and 2.0. The idea of putting all (or a lot of) my content online in one place is very appealing. That you can control and create personas (public, private, so on) and have your visitors see just what you indicate sounds very good. But at this point in time, the service was simply too limited, and to be honest, it does not do anything that I cannot do on Facebook or even here on Vox. So, not seeing any real point, I finally made the decision to delete the account. Maybe if the service improves substantially, I would be willing to give it another try. For now, it did not work for me, and on the basis of my experience I would not recommend it.

I am still interested in something that can centralize my social network profiles, so I will continue searching. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know.
 

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Roy Tennant wrote a list of "The Top Ten Things Library Administrators Should Know About Technology." What caught my eye on this were the items dealing more with people. Maybe it is because I am not a "techie" librarian like a lot of the celebrity libloggers are. Or maybe because I tend to think that your technology is only as good as the people you have running it. The idea of good people managing your library's technology has been on my mind lately, and if I was passing this on to my boss, I would especially highlight the following items from the list:

  • "Maximize the effectiveness of your most costly technology investment — your people." Mr. Tennant makes a good point about making sure you have good resources for your people. Don't bog them down with cheap or less than the best equipment. But I will also say to turn that equation around. Don't go around skimping on good people either. You need to hire good people to manage your technology. Just like library administrators have a specific skill set, which may or not include technological prowess, tech people also have a unique skill set, and it is one not all librarians or library staff have or desire to have (and I say this in terms of temperament, not unwillingness to learn). If you know you are going to need a good systems analyst or similar, hire one. Don't try to skimp by tossing the responsibility to another overworked professional in your library who may not have the full range of skills or the temperament to do it. And don't say "they can learn it" when you define "learning it" as just hand them a folder and hop to it. That's not right.
  • "A major part of good technology implementation is good project management." Indeed. Again, this goes to the idea that everyone has different skills. It also goes back to the idea that you need good planning, and that you need to be proactive, not reactive. In other words, plan ahead and don't wait for the crisis to happen.
  • "The single biggest threat to any technology project is political in nature." I think what Mr. Tennant wrote here pretty much speaks for itself. To administrators, he asks: "Are you willing to throw your political support behind it? Are you willing to invest the resources required to make it a success? Will you marshall the entire organization to support, promote, and use this new site or service? If not, simply don't bother." As I always say, put your money where your mouth is, otherwise, shut up. 

Anyhow, my quick two cents. I may add to this later, or probably just add it along to another post with a few other things about library managers.

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I published my article note on libraries using Facebook today. I had written it a couple of days ago or so, and in that time a couple other things on the same topic showed up in the librarian sector of the blogosphere along with some other items I had clipped earlier. So, I am just jotting them down here for reference purposes, and I will then add this as an update over there so I have the reference handy.

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The Tame the Web blog points to a presentation from ACRL Conference on "Social Networking Literacy Competencies for Librarians." There is some really good food for thought there; there are some things I have been trying to say at my workplaces, but often met with lukewarm reception, and definitely some stuff applicable to instruction. I just looked over the slides, and while I would like to further ponder some of the ideas, as usual, time is tight. So for now I am just making a note that the slides exist, and I hope to look them over again later for further reflection. I think there are some ideas in the set I can use, but I need some reflection time, and that is lacking at this moment. 

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I have been seeing a good number of items online on FB, social networks, and social networking literacy. A lot has to do with how to handle the public and private aspects of these online tools and knowing where to draw the line. Personally, the issue of how much to present of myself online is something I always think about. These is a sampling of some things I have seen recently:

To some who say that librarians may be obsolete some day, as long as there is a need to teach a little social networking literacy and common sense to the younger generations, we'll still have some work.

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Citation for the article:

Birdsall, William F. "The Chiasmus of Librarianship and Collaborative Research for Evidence Based Practice." Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 3.2 (2008): 65-75.

Read online (this is an open access journal. Article link opens as a PDF file. Journal homepage here).

This is just another article that I have not that much to say, but I still wanted to make a note in it someplace. In essence, the article is saying that we may be moving back to a more heterogeneous era in librarianship, somewhat similar to the previous century. By this, the author means going back to the notions of the library being maintained on the basis of local needs as opposed to the more homogeneous era we have now based on standards and bureaucracy set (in stone it seems) by the professional organization. A lot of this movement is being propelled by the 2.0 movement. Author also suggests considering local forms of knowledge, reviewing the literature on native forms of knowledge.

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